Monday, 6 December 2010

Ross Noble tour poster

Last Friday, comedian Ross Noble was performing  in the Cambridge Corn Exchange. I'm not generally that into stand up comedy but in this case we had a particular reason to go and see him.


Earlier this year I got the gig to do the artwork for Ross' Nonsensory Overload tour poster. I didn't know much about him before this so I had to do some research. Ross' shows seem largely improvised and he constantly feeds off little oddities and quirks that he finds in the audience. That unfathomable mind of his manages to make the most unconventional associations, of which he will happily paint you a vivid picture, usually resulting in surreal hilarity. This makes for a very random and bizarre comedy experience and it was this randomness that Ross wanted to show in his poster.
The idea for the poster was wholly Ross'. He already knew that he wanted a picture of his face with his long, crazy hair twisting and morphing into all kinds of random objects from past jokes.

In the beginning it was important to get a clear idea of what Ross had in mind was so I sent over a few different sketches with different levels of stylisation of his face. I felt that since he has such a distinctive look it would be a shame to make things too stylised, and indeed, the version that we decided to go with in the end was the most "realistic" one. After that it was just a matter of watching through a bunch of Youtube videos and noting down the random things said that could be used in the artwork. It was an unusual but fun experience to find yourself drawing owls in nightcaps, squids with foam fingers, feather-duster emus... not to mention the bum-faced kids. Gotta' love 'em bum-faced kids.



Rough and cleaned up drawing.

The colouring was probably the most challenging part since there were so many separate elements that needed to stand out. Normally I gravitate towards more muted colours so it was hard to figure out how to use a bright, crazy palette. I ended up going in circles and getting nowhere, but luckily there was a colour lover in the house. Chloe Citrine, my housemate, is great at coordinating bright colours and she quickly spotted the grave that I had dug myself into and suggested the solution.


The artwork was finished in April and to be able to see it used as intended now, towards the end of the year, is a great treat. Apart from posters and flyers, an animated projection of the artwork was shown on the curtains before the show started. When the curtains dropped, so did my jaw. A giant, colourful air castle made up from Ross' joke topics had been erected (or rather inflated) on stage and I could spot some of the elements that were used on the poster.



I was thrilled to see that the artwork was also printed on all sorts of merchandise. Signed posters were sold at the show for the charity  Riders for Health (Ross is a big motorcycle buff). I hope that the art helps to sell them lots of posters!


After the show we got to go backstage and meet Ross, which was awesome. I didn't communicate with him directly as the artwork was created so being able to get the approval from the man himself was the ultimate closure. It turned out he had even used parts of the artwork on the shoes that he wore on stage, how awesome is that?


Me, Ross and house mates/ fellow artists Chloe and Anna!

I really appreciate the time that Ross and his crew made for us after what must've been an exhausting show. Ross is practically doing a performance every night in what must feel like a maddening marathon. He's a super nice and, despite what you might think based on his comedy, down-to-earth guy when you get chatting to him and seemed quite interested in comics. Do check him out if you get a chance, it's a surreal experience. :)
I feel incredibly lucky and privileged to have been trusted with bringing Ross' idea to life. It's not the type of commission that comes knocking every day and it's turned out to be an incredible experience. Freelancing might have its downsides, but it certainly also has it perks!

1 comment:

firedaemon said...

That is super mega awesome cool! Especially getting your work on shoes.

I love seeing your preliminary and development work for this and getting an insight into professional work :)

Congrats on the project.